Feb 09, 2012|
Hong Kong has taken western media by surprise. While jasmine revolutions have set the streets ablaze in Egypt, Libya and Syria, Hong Kong’s urban rebellion against European brands, property tycoons and nouveau-riche mainland Chinese shoppers has taken the curious form of an “anti-locusts” campaign.
Does branding some of our mainland fellow-countrymen “locusts” constitute a new form of racism? No. First, the “locust” label is clearly directed against a specific tribe of widely known, money-squandering invaders who help their babies excrete onto the shiny floors of our shopping mall corridors and the pavements of Canton Road. If such aggressive acts, which some liberal scholars trivialize as mere “cultural misunderstandings,” are not contained, it is likely that New Bond Street in London or Fifth Avenue in New York will soon be ploughed through with mainland hot cash and human fertilizer, transforming them into urban paddy fields.
Second, Hongkongers are against “locusts” but supportive of Chinese dissidents such as Liu Xiaobo, environmental campaigner Hu Jia and the blind human rights solicitor Chen Guangcheng—and their followers. They are not locusts, but rather the bleating and whining cattle in “Animal Farm,” denied visas and passports. They’re not carrying Hermès-made suitcases loaded with cash to Times Square to buy Vacheron Constantin luxury watches, wear them straight away, and hold their arms high to pick their noses so that the number of diamonds in the watches can be clearly counted by all nearby pedestrians.
We Hongkongers on the frontier have uttered that sensitive L-word. Had a white CNN anchor uttered that word, he would have been flooded with complaints of racism, the TV headquarters would have been surrounded by Chinese protesters, and the WASP would have lost his job.
But it is the superficially hot-blooded Hongkongers—who have never learned the subtlety of keeping a stiff upper lip from our former colonial masters—who have done the dirty but frank job of crying out the L-word, the naked-emperor truth. It is a feeling experienced around the world, with its force commonly felt in restaurants, hotel lobbies, department stores and airport lounges in many western cities today.
Hongkongers are acting as infantry against the guns and cannons. The good thing is that we are of the same ethnicity as our enemies. Hongkongers have shown the world where they stand, despite being under the same national flag. The world has more or less got the message. So, keep calling us “racists” as long as you are aware of the crises we face, and do something about your national economic policies in order to save Oxford Street or the Champs-Élysées from falling to the same fate as Canton Road.
Chip Tsao is a best-selling author, columnist and a former producer for the BBC. His columns have also appeared in Apple Daily, Next Magazine and CUP Magazine, among others.